Whole lamb: spit roast or roast on grill (or cut up and grill?)
December 29, 2012 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Whole lamb: spit roast or roast on grill (or cut up and grill?). Planning an outdoor festive summer wedding, and the menu is smoked brisket and lamb. I've long wanted to spit roast a lamb, or roast it whole in the ground, but I've also been hearing from experienced hands that this is not great for lamb (although it is traditional), because different parts of the lamb are best cooked to different temperatures--they suggest getting a whole lamb butchered, and roasting the cuts individually. Does anyone have any experience, or suggestions, they can share? I saw this thread, but it didn't speak to the overall advisability of the endeavor. Thanks!
posted by oneironaut to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can't help too much since I hired someone to do the roasting, but I did a very similar thing (right down to the fact that it was a wedding party) with great success. The man who roasted the lamb for me was Argentinian and used a process he had learned at home. He spit-roasted the lamb whole and it was the second best lamb I've ever eaten.

The best was cooked in the Bedouin style of earth oven. The group I dined with (on many occasions) always cut it up, but I think you can do them whole as well.

Basically, I can't tell you how to do it, but I can tell you that it can be done.
posted by scrute at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2012

There's no reason not to put lamb on a spit (and many reasons to do so!). The trick is to bind it together properly, and balance the load correctly.

Here is previous AskMe/lamb-spitting goodness.
posted by pompomtom at 5:01 PM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers thus far...and yes, I saw that thread. I guess that since I enjoy many cuts of lamb medium rare (chops, leg), I was wondering if they would be as tasty cooked through on the spit.
posted by oneironaut at 5:07 PM on December 29, 2012

Best answer: Cook the cuts individually. I have been to 2 different parties that have had animals on spits, one pig and one lamb. It kind of puts a damper on the whole party watching a carcass spin slowly around for several hours before you can eat it. If you are having a wedding with a wide range of people and their differing queasiness levels for where meat actually comes from you could make the whole meal horrible for them. I still have one friend that can't smell lamb without feeling nauseous because of she calls "that party wwaxes brother threw" or lamb massacre 2008.

My brother is a Chef with many years experience and he had real trouble getting the meat of a whole carcass to cook evenly as he hadn't done spit cooking before it was black on the outside and all but raw on the inside.

If you are doing it yourself then I'd say different cuts of lamb were the way to go, though if you can find an experienced person to cook it for you that might be a whole different story.

Having said that the pig on the spit was done by an expert, no one was traumatized as far as I know and it was delicious and perfectly cooked. Best lamb I've ever had was lamb roast in a ground oven done by a Maori family in New Zealand.
posted by wwax at 5:09 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That's excellent advice, wwax. We will definitely be getting a professional either way!
posted by oneironaut at 8:24 PM on December 29, 2012

Best answer: Another thing to consider is that spit-roasting is a somewhat informal affair: it's ok to do it if you have enough space so that your guests do not end up smelling like melted lamb fat, but don't expect anybody to do it in their good clothes.

I've been to a couple of wedding receptions where a whole animal was on offer, and they always do it off-site, wrap it in aluminum foil and such and only bring it in to carve in front of the guests.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:07 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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